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How to kill your laptop

It is known that when using laptops, updating the BIOS has to be one of the most careful things to do.

When you say careful, you mainly mean : DON’T DO IT UNDER WINDOWS.

Most of these warning are from old days. I figured… lot of time has passed, and they wont apply. (I use linux 64bit all the time… but that day i was running windows (playing Red Alert 3), and just saw the right moment to try Asus WinFlash)

Big mistake.

Flashed correctly… Verified Ok, then said just reboot. Rebooted, and black screen. No signs of life other than the fan running steadily.
Damn, i said.

* This was my rescue kit setup :-)

I figured, as my laptop is an Asus G1 with Ami Bios, i could try and access the bootblock to restore the bios image.
Wrong. Tried USB Floppy drive, cdrom containing only the file (amiboot.rom), turned on the laptop pressing esc, alt f2, control esc, control pgup, etc, etc.
It looked like something was interfering the bootblock code. (Im not certain on this, but it seems the media playback feature of the laptop, avoided the bootblock code from ever executing).

So… Went to the Asus website (and forums) to ask for some pointers.
Tech support didn’t have a clue. They said i’ll have to take my laptop to service. (good one). or try different combo keys (all of them tried before).
Service said (without even looking at it) bad mainboard, replace and give us lots of money. (yeah, right).
I tried support again, and asked them pointers on how to open the system to access the bios chipset. They said “we can’t give you that info, because it is private”.

Turns out the laptop is pretty easy to crack open.

* A little overview of the process. Unfortunately, i forgot to take pictures of the non-socketed chip :-(

I did it. Cracked it open, found the flash chip (SST 49LF004B rev CA), desoldered using a hot air station, soldered a nice PLCC32 socket, reprogrammed the flash chip with latest bios (yes, bin file provided by Asus is a straight image of the chip), put it all together. IT’S ALIVE!!!

Thats how the socketed bios looks now. And, the process of programming.

So.. now that i have a pretty socket and the ability to get the flash chip when i want, i’ll be trying some bios mods.

That was before ……

The laptop died a hot dead. Asus and Nvidia dropped the ball HARD on this one.

The GPU had a manufacture defect in the substrate, which caused to crack the solder points (and after a couple of fixes crack the substrate itself) and the laptop died barely a month after warranty expired. Which, of course, wouldn’t have mattered, because upon contacting Asus (and the “authorized” shop where i got it) the fault is with the buyer for running the computer improperly, blaming water damage, or any other idiotic excuse.

It wasn’t Asus alone. Dell succumbed with the same flaw on the performance line of XPS laptops of the time. We had one of those too, and guess what : Dell just said it was improper use (without even looking at the laptop).

That’s why i haven’t bought any Asus/Dell stuff for a (big) while.

Published inHardwareLaptops
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